By Emily Fiegenschuh
This week I wanted to focus on a female artist and I decided to go with Emily Fiegenschuh. Although she is probably best known for her work in the New York Times Bestsellers A Practical Guide to Dragons and A Practical Guide to Monsters, she has also lent her talent to Wizards of the Coast for several 3.5 and 4th Edition books including Races of the Wild, Complete Arcane, Player’s Handbook II, Draconomicon, Monster Manuel III and more. I find that her work has a tangible playfulness to it and that’s why I think she is one of the best people to be illustrating Halflings. That’s also why I chose this piece.
I love the fact that A) the Halflings are welcoming this apparent stranger (an elf no less) into their camp with literal open arms; and B) the Elf has a grip on his coin purse strong enough to choke out a Bugbear. Which leads me to an interesting question: Do you think the thieving Halfling is a stereotype/cliché? I know that many of the Halfling PCs in the games that I have run were a wide range of classes and not just rogues but many people still seem to think that Halfling = thief. I suppose that Tolkien is to blame for that one. Personally, I love to see the weird combinations like Halfling Monk, Barbarian, and Paladin. (For the Shire!)
Getting back to the art, I’m always looking for some small details in every piece that brings it to the next level of storytelling and this one has a few. Firstly, take a close look at the elf and notice that he’s not just passing through the Halfling camp for the fun of it. He seems to have multiple injuries (bandaged calf/knee, cut on upper thigh, and cuts on upper arm) and that would suggest he’s looking for shelter and a place to rest. Secondly, despite the fact that the three Halflings in the foreground appear quite accommodating, take a closer look at the two in the background. These two seem to me to be a mother and daughter, with the mother holding her child back from getting any closer. Is she just being protective or could it be she doesn’t trust her youngling around such a handsome looking fellow? You decide!
Thank you for this and many other fine pieces Emily Fiegenschuh!